Collaborative Project Delivery Methods in Construction – What Exactly Does This Look Like?

By AIA Contract Documents

December 31, 2022

Collaborative project delivery has been touted for bringing increased speeds, reduced costs, and a decreased likelihood of litigation to the construction industry. With benefits such as these, it is no surprise that many construction professionals aim to incorporate collaboration in many project delivery models. Collaborative project delivery methods, such as CMc (Construction Manager as Constructor), IPD (Integrative Project Delivery), Design-Build, and P3 (Public-Private Partnership), share common elements for success – the project participants work “collaboratively,” exhibit “transparency,” and create value “alignment.” This jargon, however, can be difficult to conceptualize and employ during the project. So, how exactly do these concepts come to fruition on projects? Here are a few examples to demonstrate how collaborative project delivery methods may be incorporated into your next project.

  • Strategic Vetting of Partners. During the interview process, potential partners are rigorously vetted to ensure that they have the company culture and values that are wanted on the project. Proposals are assessed for strengths and weaknesses among the company’s people and processes, including whether the company is committed to a collaborative contracting model and is open to sharing all project-related information with other partners. During this vetting process, potential partners can also expound on how they intend to bring innovation to the project.
  • Early Engagement and Defining Success. Project partners are involved in the very early stages of the project. This may include the owner, architect, contractor, and major subcontractors and trades. During these early stages, the project team defines the project’s objectives, goals, and what “success” looks like, beyond profit to each partner.
  • Collaborative projects frequently conduct colocation, such as big room meetings, during the project. Colocation involves teams of different disciplines discussing, strategizing, planning, and performing work in a single location. Colocation may use a range of meeting rooms and sizes, such as design gallery, multi-functional, and computer integration rooms. During these meetings, partners of all levels attend, including newly hired employees so that they may gain relevant experience. Colocation meetings facilitate access to all partners by utilizing technology not always used on traditional projects, such as bilingual dialog capabilities, video conferencing, and sharing information via a cloud-based technology.
  • Visual Communication. Communication is made visible to all partners through the documentation of important decisions. Idea boards are made available to partners so that they may access it at any time. Additionally, partners may use dashboards to combine communications and information in an easily digestible manner. To further facilitate a collaborative approach, partners may complete dashboards together, thereby allowing all partners to jointly agree when one party has completed a milestone.
  • Simulation Testing. Collaboration methods may go beyond the contracting parties. Future users of the project may participate in the design process through simulations. For example, on hospital facility projects, doctors and nurses may participate in simulations during the design phase to provide feedback to the project team about the functionality of the space. Simultaneously, the project team witnesses the simulation sessions to receive any such feedback in real time.
  • Common Vocabulary. Partners ensure that all individuals working on the project use the same language. Teams may have different vocabulary on different projects, but project partners make certain that the desired vocabulary is consistent between all of the teams, and they reinforce any such vocabulary throughout the project.

The above-mentioned are only a few examples of how collaborative project delivery methods can be employed on projects. Moving from an adversarial approach to a collaborative model means accounting for many value drivers beyond profit. It requires partners to become better communicators, be engaged earlier than usual, and hold the belief that continuous learning and better planning can result in a better outcome for everyone involved in the construction process.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.